This morning, the temperature in the animal housing unit was 10.5Â°C in all the rooms and 13.7Â°C in the room where the rats are sleeping. As explained in the ad hoc page of the university website, they turned the general heating system off since May, 15th, regardless of the weather conditions. Since then, I’ve clearly observed a drop in temperature. But today is the worst, not only for scientists who are trying to work in these conditions but also for the precious animals we take care of (the recommended temperature range by all ethical committees is 20-25Â°C).
I can understand the need for saving money in a small university like the ULg. But, while the rector is worried about many important subjects like Open Access, people without regular stay permit, the ULg ranking, …, I think authorities should also care about what really makes their university: students and scientists (or, more broadly, people who contribute to research). Students are in exam; they should not worry too much about the cold (well, 4 hours in the cold for a written exam is not necessarily good for their performance). Scientists are working for the reputation of the university and the cold is not encouraging. Moreover, for life scientists, if animals are not in good conditions, it means bad experiments and bad (or, even worse, wrong) results.
Overall, I don’t think that the university is really saving money by turning the heating system off. People are buying personal heating systems and turn them on at full power (in opposition with the ULg advices to save electricity, PDF file, 43kb). I am personally using two additional heating systems a full power for the rats (but I can only add 4Â°C to the mean temperature). People are getting ill because of the cold; people not attending work cost money and cause delays. And finally, I am forced to re-do many experiments because my animals are not behaving like previously. Is all this worth the savings done by turning the heating system off?